AUBURN, Ala. — Offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey wasn’t joking when he said Auburn’s wide receivers have a more confident demeanor this fall. In fact, it was probably an understatement.
Sophomore wideout Eli Stove believes when the Tigers are finishing up the regular season and the college football postseason is ramping up, Auburn could boast one of the best units in the country.
“I don’t want to sound cocky,” Stove said. “But I think we can be the best group of receivers that Auburn has ever had, but in the SEC, too,” Stove said.
If the unit were to reach such heights, it would mean significant progress in a short time. Auburn fell to the bottom of the SEC last season in passing offense (the Tigers attempted just 289 total passes in 2016).
Stove’s foresight comes with knowledge and a year of experience in the SEC. After making six starts as a freshman, the Niceville, Fla., native clinched the offensive newcomer of the year award at Auburn’s team banquet last December. Even as an underclassmen, he understands the weight in his statements.
“I’m not cocky, I’m just saying, if we keep working hard and doing everything we’re supposed to do catching every ball, every deep ball, every 50-50 ball thrown to us, I think we can be a good group — maybe the best group.”
Auburn added Sal Cannella — the Chicago native was the nation’s top JUCO tight end prospect — and saw the return of Kyle Davis ahead of preseason. There’s a long list of players who could have an impact, but the biggest change has been in the form of Baylor transfer Jarrett Stidham, who Stove says “knows where to put” the football “at all times.”
Stove is certain Auburn has always had the deep ball in its arsenal, but with Stidham in the pocket explosive plays should commonplace.
“He’s doing pretty good helping us getting the right ball and stuff,” Stove said.
New offensive ideas and sets will help, as well. The Tigers will run the football, but have plans to be more balanced in Lindsey’s first year. The group has worked through the summer months and has improved “tremendously.”
Auburn will kick off against Georgia Southern on Sept. 2 in Jordan-Hare Stadium. When Stidham throws his first pass his receivers will be out to prove their worth.